Background Record keeping is a central task in maternity care, and has particular challenges for community midwives who have to record essential information in the mothers' hand held notes. We wanted to investigate the feasibility of digital pens for this task.
Methods The pilot included six maternity units in the West Midlands, with 20 participating midwives who were trained in the used of digital pens. A special version of the hand held antenatal notes was developed, suitable for electronic data capture and information link was established to the regional web based PEER data collection system. The system allows the data to be validated by the midwife after it is downloaded either via a pen docking station or encrypted Bluetooth connection.
Results The pilot produced good data flow from all 6 units. To date, 164 notes have been completed, with 161=98% submissions to PEER system. There was 90% data capture, with minimal changes required during the validation process, mainly to free text boxes. The time required for validation was considered minimal. Midwives felt the pens were easy to use, time saving and enhanced care provision.
Conclusions Preliminary evaluation suggests that digital pens are readily implemented for use with hand held notes, and can provide substantial enhancements in the quality of maternity care. The information is easily captured for data collection and/or electronic patient records, and will provide immediate, high quality information on maternity care being provided in the community.
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